MOUSSA Sissoko has backed Papiss Cissé to bury his frustrating campaign and hit the goal trail again when Newcastle United return to action next week.
Cissé’s season has not been the soar-away success that he enjoyed after joining the Magpies last year, with the Senegalese forced to endure some difficult days in front of goal.
Thursday night’s outing against Metalist Kharkiv was another one of those, with the striker seeing two goals chalked off in a contentious first leg of United’s Europa League knock-out clash against the Ukrainian side.
He has scored seven goals in 31 appearances this season – not a bad record, but not close to the soaring standards he set last term.
Cissé still seems to be recovering his confidence from a difficult start to the year which also saw him moved around the frontline to accommodate former team-mate Demba Ba, who was in fantastic form before his January switch to Chelsea.
United signalled their faith in the forward by signing players to play off Cissé rather than to replace him, with Yoan Gouffran one of those who was recruited to complement the former Freiburg man.
But it is Sissoko who is playing the support role for Cissé, and the France international is convinced that United’s number nine will come good sooner rather than later.
“He is a very good goalscorer and gets in such good positions that he gets a lot of chances in a match,” he said.
“On Thursday it was not his night, he just could not score – or at least he could not score a goal that was allowed.
“But all his team-mates have a lot of confidence in him. We know that given the opportunities, he will score many goals for Newcastle. We know exactly what he can do and what his strengths are.
“I am sure that between now and the rest of the season, he will find the net many times. Hopefully, the goals will start to flow next week in Ukraine.”
Sissoko does not subscribe to the idea that Newcastle are now outsiders to progress to the last 16 of the Europa League, and is backing the team to score in Ukraine on Thursday.
“Yes, I think we have shown that we can score at any time in the matches since I have been here,” he said. “Unfortunately, on Thursday we couldn’t – we just did not have the luck on our side.
“Sometimes, they fall for you, sometimes they don’t. But there is confidence in this side. We know what we are capable of. Next week in the second leg, we just have to make sure that we do score.
“Obviously the disallowed goals were a bad thing for us. The positive thing is that it has not cost us the tie. We just have to do what we have to do when we get another chance next week.”
Pardew will spend a free weekend debating whether or not to rest key men for the second leg, which comes just three days before a Premier League encounter with Southampton that Newcastle dare not lose.
Sissoko wants to play in both games, but knows that his manager has options.
“It is always encouraging when the coach has difficult decisions to make,” he said. “It means the squad is good, there is a lot of competition within the squad, a lot of options on the bench and all that has got to be healthy. What we have to do is train hard as a squad and as individuals. I will give 100% both in training and on the pitch and that is what I am going to do.”